A potential in vitro model of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) latency was developed. Dissociated human dorsal root ganglion cultures were infected with VZV and maintained for 1 wk in the presence of bromovinyl arabi-nosyl uracil, a potent inhibitor of VZV. Seven to 21 d after removing the inhibitor (>14 d after infection), the cells were trypsinized, passed to monolayers of human embryonic lung fibroblasts, and observed for VZV reactivation as indicated by typical cytopathic effects and the appearance of VZV antigens. VZV reactivated from 56% of the cultures containing both neurons and satellite cells but not from cultures specifically enriched for either neurons, satellite cells, or ganglion-derived fibroblasts. The failure to isolate VZV from cell suspensions that were sonicated before cocultivation with fibroblasts indicated that infectious VZV was not present before reactivation. Moreover, immunohistochemical and immunoprecipitation studies revealed no VZV-specific antigens in any cultures before the reactivation stimulus. VZV antigens were detected after trypsinization and cocultivation. These findings suggest that cultures containing both neurons and satellite cells provide a model system for VZV persistence that possesses many properties of a latent infection.